Tuesday, March 8

Intricacies of Indoor Craft Shows...

I wanted to share some tips on setting up for an indoor craft show. I was a vendor at a local craft fair in Pennsylvania last week and learned some things along the way that will hopefully help you in getting ready for yours!

1. Contact the craft show organizer
Ask them questions on anything you are unsure of!
  • Do they provide tables and chairs?
  • What time can you start setting up? When can you take down your table?
  • Directions
  • Parking & unloading areas
Now is the time to understand how it all works so that the day of your are confident of where you are to go and you are aware of all the times for set up and take down.

Plan out your display table at least a week in advance--Sketch it out! I start by drawing out what my ideal table would look like. Then jot down which items I know I have or can easily borrow from family or friends.
  • What are your display options?
  • Are you using tables & chairs? Will they fit into your car?
  • How will you hang up items?
Get creative with your display pieces! You don't have to use a 6' plastic folding table. I borrowed a vintage folding table from my friend Emily that she decoupaged in a fabulous floral design with legs wrapped in old map paper. People loved it! It got them to stop at my booth and led to great conversation about her work. I also borrowed dresser drawers from Emily that she had painted and decoupaged and filled them up with my aprons. The idea behind that was to invite people to pick up the items and look at them as if they were browsing through their own dresser. So often arts and crafts are not encouraged to be touched or handled. But I disagree! We are visual and tactile creatures that desire not only looking but feeling in our hands what we are about to buy. So if you notice a potential buyer eying an item, help them become a buyer by handing it to them to look at. Then tell them why it's so great!!!

3. Make a checklist
Write down what you need (tables, chairs, money box/vendor apron, table cloth, bags, business cards, tape, scissors, twine/string/rope, notebook for (notes you'll take down for ideas on your next show!), change (ones, fives, tens), cooler/lunch box, an activity for down times (magazines, sketchbook, etc.)
  • Make a small check next to what you already have on your list
  • Go buy what you need
  • Cross off items as you physically pack them (that way you know for sure you packed it while you are driving to the show and running through your mental checklist!)

4. Start gathering everything 2-3 days before hand
Dedicate a space in your home where you can easily place items you may randomly think about throughout the day. I like to use a laundry basket and just plop it in as I think of it. Laundry baskets are sturdy, easy to carry, and you can see through it to help jog your memory.

5. Physically pack your car the night before
The morning of the show should be dedicated to eating a good breakfast, making a cup of coffee to go, rereading over your directions, and kissing your family goodbye! Most craft shows have typical junk food to eat (hot dogs, chips, soda, candy, etc.) so I bring a lunch box with my favorite snacks to keep me going all day.

6. Make friends with other vendors
During set up, briefly introduce yourself to your neighbor vendors. They will become so important throughout your day! Becoming friends with them can help you when you need to take a bathroom break or run to your car because you forgot your business cards in your glove box so they can keep an eye on your booth. And you do the same for them. Starting up conversation about their booth will ultimately lead into talking about your craft. This is a great opportunity to practice "selling" your items and figure out how you will pitch your products to potential buyers.
I was fortunate to be sitting next to a very fun vendor, Corey from Primitive Folk Art, last week. We swapped stories about our crafting, selling, and networked about upcoming shows. I learned a lot from Corey! She used plastic bins to transport her products and used them as chairs to sit on--clever! (You end up standing a lot instead of hiding behind your table.) She was also a wealth of knowledge on craft shows in the area and what to expect. Thank you Corey! Hope to see you soon!

7. Stay away from negative vendors!
Unfortunately they exist. Be sure to surround yourself by the positive people at the shows. It's easy to start complaining that the signs aren't big enough to promote the show, wonder where the people are, dislike your booth spot, and so on. You only have so much control of the craft show so you need to make the most of it. So keep the negative nancy's at bay!
And if you can't escape them, pull out one of your activities and look busy.

I hope you will find these tips helpful! Please post some ideas that have worked for you!

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